The Department For Education and Skills (DES) has taken on external
PR consultants to help with a campaign to encourage underprivileged
teenagers to go to university.
An erosion of student grants and the need to pay tuition fees have put
increasing numbers of teenagers from low-income backgrounds off higher
The Government has decided to hit back with a pounds 2m campaign called
Excellent Challenge to persuade poor teenagers that university is
Geronimo PR has been named as the agency to handle the campaign for its
full three years. Geronimo MD Karen Harris heads a five-strong team on
the account and reports to Clare Chandler, DES's senior publicity
The main thrust of the campaign is to organise and promote a series of
roadshows to schools and colleges of further education.
Up to 13 graduates are currently being recruited by Geronimo to share
their experiences of university, on the roadshows. Geronimo is still on
the hunt for graduates with PR, drama and presentation skills for this
Harris said one of the key target groups would be 13 to 15-year-olds:
'We want to reach those who are not even thinking about university at
the moment and to show them the benefits, by the time they are at sixth
form college many have already decided.'
Geronimo is one of six PR agencies on the DES roster. The others are
Fishburn Hedges, Harrison Cowley, Colman Getty, Pure PR and Countrywide
The Government has set a target of half of all under 30-year-olds
experiencing higher education by 2010. Less than one in six children
from unskilled worker backgrounds go to university compared to three
quarters of those from professional backgrounds.